It’s a tempting proposition to grow these ornamental but also productive vines in ones own garden, and a realistic dream too. They can grow well in sheltered sunny aspects or on a south or west wall they grow vigorously and can fruit really well. The big, velvety heart shaped emerald green leaves appear as if fashioned from the finest velvet, and the stems are red tinted.
For the fruit ‘though, some thought is needed to variety planting. The majority of Kiwi Vines are NOT self pollinating so you need to make sure you plant males and females together. In this respect it is important you buy only named varieties from a specialist supplier. Cheaper options from less reputable sources may well be seed raised. This is something of a lottery for such plants may never fruit unless you are lucky, although they will undoubtedly provide a lot of fun and be visually attractive.
Here is a handy list of gender-specific varieties. To get the best crop plant one male to pollinate up to seven females, lucky chap] The asterisk denotes the most reliable varieties.
There is also a limited range of self-fertile varieties. At first these might seem the ideal answer and a tempting proposition. They can and do provide satisfactory results, but if you are able to plant 2 or more vines, and go down the traditional route of matching pollinating partners, then you will find the yield and more importantly, fruit quality is better. Known self fertile Kiwi fruit varieties are
Harvesting your spoils
Kiwi fruits ripen quite late. Leave them on the vine until as late in October as you can before harvesting, but make sure they don’t get frosted. Pick and lay flat on a sunny windowsill. They should ripen within a month and can then be enjoyed for several weeks. Savouring your own home grown Chinese Gooseberries is one of the most satisfying of garden rewards you can ever experience. A mature vine can yield 100 or more fruits in a good year. Fruit set is best when the Spring flowering period isn’t marred by significant frosts.
You can also grow these climbers in a cold greenhouse or conservatory for reliable crops. If you do, make sure to pollinate the flowers by hand as they probably won’t get insect pollinated naturally in such conditions.